The Big Sur Food and Wine Festival is a giving organization that holds events to promote Big Sur as a culinary destination, supporting the overall health, character and vitality of the Big Sur community. Its intention is to stimulate the local economy and donate a large portion of event proceeds to support local nonprofits that benefit Health, Safety, Education and Arts. In addition, it gives scholarships to talented Big Sur residents who would greatly benefit themselves and the community through wine and/or culinary education.
The Big Sur Food & Wine Festival was founded in 2009 by Toby-Rowland Jones. After contributing his wine event management talents to the Big Sur Jazz Fest, the Masters of Food & Wine, the Central Coast Classic and many other wine events, Toby felt it was time to create an event that blended fine food and wine with Big Sur character. Together he and a committee of like-minded friends brought the idea into fruition in less than a year while accomplishing the festival’s mission.
Though the event is epicurean in nature by present day standards, its true nature is summed up by Epicurus himself, “Of all the means to ensure happiness throughout the whole life, by far the most important is the acquisition of friends.”
Meet the Team
Toby Rowland-Jones has a long history in wine event management. From the Central Coast Wine Classic, Masters of Food and Wine, to the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta, he’s done it all, and it seems, to him, sometimes a bit more “At every turn, there’s something to think of or get involved in – I just enjoy the creative aspect of working with people on amazing ideas, and seeing them to fruition.” At home, Toby spent 16 years as a volunteer firefighter, sat on the founding board for the Henry Miller Library, and organizes fundraisers for the Big Sur community. Toby loves the Big Sur Food & Wine Festival and what it brings to the community. “Great friends have come together to help with this remarkable event. I could not be more grateful for their support, hard work and dedication. This festival shows everyone that community outreach is still viable and more valid than ever before.”
Big Sur native Aengus Wagner moved back to Big Sur in the summer of ’91 and never left. He helped run the Big Sur Jazzfest for 8 years, until ’03. In 2000, he met Karen MacNeil through famed wine maker and friend Gary Pisoni. There laid the grounds for total inspiration in the world of wine. Their passions got him. Aengus works at Nepenthe, where he received much education about wine and service. Now, with the Festival team, he’s pleased to raise needed funds for the community through friendships fostered over years of of making friends as he goes about his daily life. These talented winemakers, chefs and volunteers all seem to have the same inspiration to celebrate the good life here in our “town.”
With hospitality career and wine enthusiast parents, it’s no wonder that Matt Peterson has been in the wine industry for more than eight years; and four of those as a proud resident of Big Sur. Matt began his wine industry career as a sales rep for Wine Warehouse and then moved on to J&L Wines, a major sponsor of the Big Sur Food & Wine Festival. He is currently Monterey County’s representative for Swirl Wine Brokers, Martine’s Wines and Wine Wise, as well as Sommelier at the fabulous Pacific’s Edge Restaurant at the Highlands Inn in Carmel.
Adam Olthof has been in the wine, food, and hospitality industry in the Monterey Peninsula for more than ten years and believes that the culinary talent, local agriculture, and epic, rugged nature of the coast make Big Sur one of the most spectacular places to experience some of the finest hospitality, food,wine and, well, just amazingly good times! Adam joins us at The Gateway to Big Sur at the Hyatt to share his vast experience in stirring up excitement for a good party.
FOY EVENTS JOINS THE TEAM THIS YEAR!
Kelli Foy ~ Event Coordinator “The Alchemist”
Kelli brings her love of events and hospitality and over 25 years of event planning experience to our beloved Festival. Her management career began in college when she ran the National Association of Hospitality and Home Economics and her local Utah chapter. This began her love of complexity that events offer. Spring-boarding into business administration and marketing, the natural progression was to open her own hospitality business! Event Marketing and Management is her focus, handling groups of 2 – 15,000. Currently, she owns FOY Events which she and her niece Nichole Foy run together. Kelli manifests alchemy by taking multiple and sometimes whacky fast moving parts and creating “gold”, a coordinated success for yet another memorable experience for all who are involved with our Festival.
Nichole Foy ~ Event Assistant “The Apprentice”
This girl has no idea what magic she creates! Joining the Foy Events family business last year, Nichole’s hospitality experience takes in restaurant management, customer service and baking experience. Nichole is a task master, sometimes a mir”acle worker and all along keeping our committee organized, calm and collected. Her apprenticeship compliments her heart’s desire to know everything about food, wine and all that goes into the creating this kind of amazing festival.
Elsa Rivera ~ Event Facilitator “Harmonic Converger
Elsa Rivera is a Healthcare and International Business Management Consultant who puts her heart into community service events and other fun projects. Her networking brings out the best in people who truly want to champion their passion, vision and creativity. She has served as a committee member for The Big Sur Fashion Show and organizer for the show’s Pre-Show and After Party. Her love of Big Sur as an extended part of her family, her passion for dance, the arts, great food and wine, inspires her to be a connecting force for the Big Sur Food and Wine Festival. (Photo Credit: Christine Holding)
Alicia Hahn ~ Band Leader “Magic Mystery Tour Goddess”
Alicia Hahn has always loved Big Sur, and in 1993 moved here from her hometown of Half Moon Bay. From a nearly 20-year career at Nepenthe and becoming a Certified Wine Professional at the CIA in Napa Valley, to gathering with friends to enjoy the bounty of fine foods and wines the Central Coast has to offer, this bon vivant shows us all how to lead a true Epicurean lifestyle.
Peggy Giles ~ Transportation Queen “Go to Girl”
Peggy Giles arrived in Big Sur in 1984, the year of the Rat Creek Fire. Impressed by community spirit and dedication to help each other, Peggy spent the next 25 years working, living and raising a family in Big Sur. During that time, other fires, road slides and disasters have come to pass; still the Big Sur community rises up to help those in need, and Peggy has always stepped forward quietly and with complete dedication. She contributes her talents to the Festival as it too demonstrates the spirit of community services. Here’s our Go to Girl, shuckin’ oysters at Hog Island!
Lisa Haas ~ Artistic Coordinator “Michelleangelo”
Lisa Haas brings to Big Sur a unique perspective as an artist and creative thinker. Lisa has always had a deep love of Big Sur. As an owner of a successful faux finish and design business, Lisa Haas Design, Lisa brings a refreshing energy to our crew with her perspectives of design for not just the look of the Festival, website and overall vision of the organization. When the rains come, you’ll find Lisa in the hills looking for mushrooms to add to her repertoire as a culinary genius. Where you see decorative creativity and a crew of people running around putting up signs and lights and fabulous decorations, you know Lisa will be in the midst of it all.
CRAIG STRINGER ~ “Emeritus Wizard”
Coming to join us from his home in Tahoe, Craig now carries the title “Emeritus Wizard” taking on logistics last year and having served on the Board of Advisors since the festival began. This year he supports Lisa Haas with on-site production of our event apparel. He’ll be on site to meet and greet new and old friends. Craig celebrates this year’s festival with his general philosophy: “We could get hit by a bus tomorrow; let’s drink it today.”
Jennifer Haydu is a movement artist, instructor and owner of EVOLUTION studio in Pacific Grove. For twenty years she has been teaching, performing, and collaborating with others in the fields of dance, heath and healing artists. She works with clients of all ages, consults with businesses on employee wellness programs, and teaches yoga, dance and movement arts in schools. Jennifer also hosts a variety of workshops and trainings at her studio in Pacific Grove. In addition, she shares her gifts of healing touch through Thai Massage and Acroyoga. Jennifer spearheaded the successful grassroots movement to open the Pacific Grove Farmers Market. She consults and collaborates with the creators of the Independent Market Place and Happy Girl Kitchen, as well as the premier food and wine events in Monterey. Her favorite is the Big Sur Food and Wine Festival (of course!), and she is delighted to be part of the amazing team creating this uniquely delicious event.
Beccy Breeze ~ Sommelier Coordinator “Wrangler”
Beccy has twenty years experience working in the wine business. She has worked in direct sales, wholesale, education, hospitality, as a cellar master, sommelier, and wine director. She has worked with restaurant wine programs as diverse as wine bars to Michelin starred Wine Spectator Award Winners including Sierra Mar, Murray Circle, RN74, Aziza and Casanova. She currently works as a sommelier at Aubergine, at L’Auberge Carmel, a Relais & Châteaux property that recently received Forbes Travel Guide’s highest rating of five stars. She is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. Beccy is a veteran of the wine event circuit having worked Relais and Chateau GourmetFest, Pebble Beach Food and Wine, Los Angeles Food and Wine, Central Coast Wine Classic and Eat Drink SF. This is Beccy’s fifth year working Big Sur Food and Wine and is excited to give back to the community she fell in love with while working at Post Ranch Inn.
We are pleased Allan is working with Big Sur Food and Wine as he brings a wealth of fresh ideas and support to our Chefs and Staff. Allan is a keen communicator and problem solver, and enjoys bringing people together to share lifelong memorable experiences. A self imposed wine and food enthusiast that started when he was child hanging out in his Swedish mother’s catering company making Hors d’oeuvres in the kitchen. Allan has been on a worldwide lifelong search for fabulous food and extraordinary wine. He comes to us with a background in Banking, Logistics and Communications. His passion for people, food and wine are a perfect fit for Big Sur Food and Wine Festival.
Kari Bernardi, aka Super Natural Chef, is a certified Gourmet Raw Food Chef and Instructor. She is the Founder/ Director of CSU Monterey Bay’s Farm to School Partnership and former Faculty Member of Living Light Culinary Arts Institute. Kari has been instrumental in writing healthy school food policies and bringing fresh organic fruits and vegetables into schools as well as teaching farm fresh nutrition education to students around the world. Kari brings her super natural skills to our team in helping with the organized chaos of last minute festival coordination and helping the Bloodhound.
Merry Makers are the living muses of Big Sur Food and Wine, local born and raised Rosalia Webster creates and leads this welcoming, comfort providing parade- Enticing guests to taste and toast, to lavish and lounge in a bohemian living room of experience created from her cornucopia of socially enthralling skills, such as fire dancing, wine education, health consciousness and family inspiration, is certainly a Merry Magical talent! Be sure to meet one of her team member to laugh, learn and Make Merry!